Day 3: June 2 1906 Gandhi’s Move to Phoenix Settlement

Posted by on Jul 14, 2012 in Satyagraha Tour South Africa 2019 | 0 comments

durban waterfrontAfter breakfast at the hotel we will board our vehicle and travel to visit Durban Waterfront where Mahatma Gandhi would of come in on the S. S. Safari.  Enjoy a moment to envision what it was like when Bapu first arrived from Bombay on the boat after his long journey.  Along the way enjoy glimpses of the breathtaking views of the “Golden Mile” coastline.  We will visit the Harbor area (Mahatma Gandhi Road) where Gandhi first arrived May 24, 1893.  *Note we may not visit these sites in sequence due to logistics/traffic/special events but we will see them while in Durban.”

 We will see Cato Creek area where the crowd of white artisans gathered on January 13, 1897 to prevent Indian passengers of the Courland & Naderi from disembarking.  Gandhi was advised to disembark separately along Cato Creek and where he was assaulted by the crowd.  Many of the sites associated with the Gandhian period have either disappeared or suffered neglect and worse.  We will be inspired by visiting the locale that Gandhiji would have known so well.

the-court-house-museum-43 DurbanVisit Durban Magistrate’s Courts (Old Court House Museum) erected in 1866, the first place Gandhi visited when he arrived to South Africa as a young lawyer.  The Old Court House Museum in Durban is one of the oldest buildings around and has witnessed many of South Africa’s important events.  On May 24 1893, Gandhi was taken by Dada Abdullah to the Courts so that he could be acquainted with local legal procedures.  The turban saga and the spat with the magistrate unfold…

We visit the old Durban Railway Station Building.  It was at this site that Gandhi embarked on June 7 1893 on the fateful train journey that, in later years, he regarded as having changed the course of his life.

Gandhi’s legal practices were based on Ferguson’s corner between 1895 and 1896.

Next we travel to the Phoenix Settlement and visit some of the Gandhi Development Trust’s projects focusing on education. The Trust works within the local community to promote Gandhian principles in education. They produce a monthly newspaper and organize conferences and events where these principles and teachings are explored.

“Gandhi: True Education; What is the meaning of education? It simply means a knowledge of letter. It is merely an instrument, and an instrument may be well used or abused. Therefore, whether you take elementary education or higher education, it is not required for the main thing. It does not make men of us. It does not enable us to do our duty. In its place it can be of use and it has its place when we have brought our senses under subjection and out our ethics on a firm foundation. Our ancient school system is enough. Character building has the first place in it and that is primary education. A building erected on that foundation will last.”


 June 2, 1906 the MK Gandhi family moves to the Phoenix Settlement.  Today our visit to the Phoenix (Ashram) Settlement coincides with the anniversary date of the MK Gandhi family move-in date. 

Lunch: Gandhi Development Trust – Meet with the Gandhi Family members to engage a discussion about the principles of Satyagraha and Gandhiji’s South African history.  

After a morning learning about the Trust followed by lunch, we will visit some historic sites associated with Gandhi’s time in South Africa. The period Gandhi spent in South Africa has often been described as his spiritual and political apprenticeship because it was within the contract of South African political and social life that Gandhi developed his philosophy and practice of Satyagraha from his law practice at 326-328 Smith Street, Durban.

We visit Gandhi’s home at Phoenix Settlement, established in December 1904 on a farm approximately 26 kilometers from Durban. Gandhi purchased the 100 acres, with a spring and a few oranges and mango trees for 1000 pounds.

This home has a very spiritual feel and we visit the building that housed his printing press from which he published The Indian Opinion.  This is the home Arun Gandhi, Ela Gandhi and their older sister Sita were raised by Gandhi’s second son Manilal Gandhi and his wife Sushila.

The Phoenix Settlement established by Mahatma Gandhi is on the north western edge of Inanda about 25km from central Durban. It is comprised of 100 acres of land with several main buildings clustered together on a small hill known as the Apex area.  Throughout its long history, the Settlement played an important role both from the spiritual and political of view, in promoting justice, peace and equality. 

The Settlement was an experiment in communal living, a way to eliminate one’s needless possessions and to live in a society with full equality. Gandhi moved his newspaper, the Indian Opinion, and its workers to the Phoenix Settlement as well as his own family a bit later. Besides a building for the press, each community member was allotted three acres of land on which to build a dwelling made of corrugated iron. In addition to farming, all members of the community were to be trained and expected to help with the newspaper.
 The Main Buildings of the Phoenix Settlement that Mahatma Gandhi are:
  • International Printing Press
  • Mahatma Gandhi Museum and Library
  • Mahatma Gandhi Health Clinic
  • Kasturba Gandhi Primary School
  • ‘Kasturbavahn’ the house built and lived in by Gandhi’s son Manilal and wife Sushila, their children Sita, Arun and Ela.
  • ‘Shanti’ built by the Girl Guide Movement
 Durban Gandhi Newspaper
The Gandhi Development Trust is an organization promoting the Gandhian philosophy in the country and internationally in order to create a better world. Further interaction and discussion about the principles of Satyagraha with the tour participants.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Arun Gandhi Durban Leela

Ela Gandhi Huff Gandhi’s Granddaughter

Ela Gandhi Huff Gandhi, Mideast, South Africa